There is an ongoing concern in the South African market place that many companies and government departments do not seem to be aware of the difference between accredited and non accredited certification bodies.
Whilst it is acknowledged that some non accredited certification bodies may do a good job, this, however, could not be substantiated as they are not subject to the same third party attestation of their competence to perform valid and creditable certifications.
Furthermore, certification bodies that are not accredited do not follow the international requirements set out by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) in determining, for example, auditor time or sampling of sites to be visited. Accredited Certification Bodies have gone through a stringent evaluations for them to become accredited, through which they obtain national, regional and global legitimacy.
It is estimated that there are about 8000 management system certificates currently in the market in South Africa. It is believed that there are at least some 35 certification bodies operating in the country. Less than 50% of these certification bodies are accredited.
It is noted that in South Africa at present, there is no regulatory requirement for a certification body to be accredited.
There are many reasons why you should use the services of an accredited certification body:
- Mitigate the risk of procurement by taking the guesswork out of choosing a certification body by giving you confidence that you will get the service that closely meets your requirements;
- win new business particularly since the use of accredited conformity assessment services is increasingly a stipulation of specifiers in both the public and private sector;
- gain access to overseas markets since certificates issued by bodies that are accredited by an IAF MLA signatory are recognised and accepted throughout the world; Certified once, accepted everywhere
- help to identify best practice since the certification body is required to have appropriate knowledge of your business sector;
- control costs with the help of knowledge transfer since accredited certification bodies can be a good source of impartial advice; and international benchmarking, since they're assessed against International standards
- offer market differentiation and leadership by showing to others credible evidence of good practice